Rev. Eliane: The Gospel Brings Peace (literally!)
“Jesus specializes in miracles!”
Read this story in conjunction with our 2019 Lenten Prayer Guide.
Sunday April 7, 2019
We pray for the Rev. Eliane Chacon, serving in a neighborhood where the community is developing a culture of peace after years of violence. This neighborhood has been brought together by the building of a new church. Pastor Eliane says the change has come with preaching the Gospel.
Salvation Anglican Church, in Paraiba State, Brazil, is indeed a real Savior to this community. It may seem obvious that a vital church can play a key role in a community. But how can one measure this?
The community here is one of “squatters,” people who have been forced off land elsewhere and end up here claiming land simply by occupying it. It is land right along the Paraiba River, land that floods easily. Needless to say, living in a situation where you fear at any moment your land might be flooded – or grabbed by someone else – does not foster a sense of community!
When the local Anglican church flooded, the government condemned the building, along with dozens of houses in the area. The community was given new land for a church, but no money to rebuild it.
Surprisingly, the community gathered together to find a solution. The government plot was not ideal as it was located far away from the original church. It was not convenient for residents. One community member donated her land to the church, in exchange for the government land. She was no longer using all of her land to farm, and her extended family could use the government plot.
In 2012, ARDF gave a grant to rebuild the church on this better site. Even with the new building, the community still felt unstable and violent. But a stable church where the Gospel was preached began to change all of this.
Pastor Eliane reports that she has seen amazing changes since the new building was completed.The neighbors can now more easily attend church. They are not, after all, wading through mud on the floor of the church, or unable to enter the church at all!
Pastor Eliane told us that before, “They didn’t have a peaceful culture. Violence culture is very common in Brazil.” She went on to tell us of one instance there one woman murdered another woman over a dispute with a dog!
However, being able to hold regular services has changed this. Now, the community is much calmer and willing to be in community together. “They understand how important forgiveness is. Their relationships are more peaceful.” Pastor Eliane says this is a direct result of preaching the Gospel! Hallelujah!
Pastor Eliane is able to document this change as well. One example is in the number of couples now wanting to marry, or wanting their unions blessed. Before, no one wanted to invest in the commitment of marriage.
“[This year] I will bless 5 more couples because we teach this in the church – how important it is receive the blessing of God in your marriage.”
Pastor Eliane has future plans for the church. She dreams of creating a space for women to gather during their time off. Currently, women stay in their homes alone when they are not working. Bringing them together at the church will continue to foster this sense of community.
It is amazing to see what a difference a local church can make, year after year, in a difficult community.
Pastor Eliane’s bishop, Bishop Marcio Meira, has his own explanation: “We believe Jesus can change every thing, in every time, for everybody. But we need sometimes a miracle. And Jesus specializes in miracles.”
You can read more about this community and see additional photos in the Spring 2019 Apostle Magazine